MONTANA'S  JEWEL  DOESN'T  FADE,  HE  JUST  GOES  AWAY
 

MANILA, JUNE 13, 2006 (STAR) By Bill Velasco - When the Montana Jewels lost the battle for third in the PBL Unity Cup last Thursday, it not only ended their season, but also put a period on the career of guard Alex Compton who, at age 32, has nowhere else to go.

"This is my last contract in the PBL, and the PBA has said no, so yes, I am retiring," Compton told The STAR in an interview at his home last week. "There were still some things I would have wanted to do, but Iím also excited to see whatís next for me out there."

Compton was the only Philippine-born foreigner allowed to play in the Philippine Basketball League, and, after four years, the PBL said he could no longer skirt the rules that govern other players, despite his impeccable character both as a player and a person. Meanwhile, his attempts to be allowed to play in the PBA have not met with success.

Compton, a graduate of Cornell, first came to the Philippines in 1998 to play for the Manila MetroStars in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association. Eight years later, he has won an MBA title and Most Valuable Player trophy, represented the Philippines, and taken his PBL team to a title in 2004. Gradually, though, the toll of playing heavy and increasingly physical minutes resulted in various injuries that either kept him out of action or slowed him down.

ĎAll I can say is what a ride," Compton says. "I just feel so blessed to be playing basketball and get paid for it. And eight years is quite a run."

Compton, who was born in Makati when his parents (who were both teachers) were teaching in Cavite, looks back with fondness on the country he has spent his career in, a country he will always call home.

"I know that, wherever I end up working, I will always call the Philippines home," the 5í11" guard said. "There is something about the closeness, the belief in a big family, the ability to joke around and smile at things, that jibes with who I am as a person. It all boils down to the people. When you embrace a culture, like I have, and it embraces you back, thatís something."

Reminiscing, the Champions for Christ guard and local product endorser recalls the closeness he has shared with many fellow players, most notably MetroStars teammates Romel Adducul (now of Barangay Ginebra) and Peter Martin (now a team manager in the PBL).

"Iíd give Pedro (Martin) assists for dunks, and heíd protect me on the court. Pretty good deal, isnít it?" Compton laughs. "I guess itís like when thereís war or something, and you share that kind of experience, you form a bond. You know youíve all sacrificed and pushed each other, and even if we donít see each other, we can just pick up."

Though heís been grateful for all the colorful experiences heís had as an adopted "Filipino" who speaks the language more fluently than most locals, the player known as "The Heartbreaker" both for his looks and his killer jump shot still expresses wishful thinking that he could have closed out his career with a PBA title.

"Yeah, I would have wanted that, that was one of my dreams," Compton said. "At first, I said I would play with whoever would take me. But now, two of my best friends ó Romel and Eric Menk ó are with Ginebra, so I wouldíve wanted to play with them. Theyíre both great big men, and you need that to win. As a guard, I know how important they are to a team."

Compton is now taking a well-deserved break, partly to help heal the back spasms that kept him out of Games 2 and 3 of the PBL Unity Cup semifinals. Then he will head to the US for some training, and join a Champions for Christ squad that will tour South America. Still the Heartbreaker will leave his heart in the Philippines.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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